I was reasonably proud of my iron cleaning the other day. Then I decided that I should try it out on another cloth. The cloth was made in China and labeled 100% cotton. I ironed. White-grayish crud accumulated on the iron, just like you would expect if an iron that is too hot is going over synthetics. I conclude this is a poorly labelled Chinese towel. It's not the iron's fault.
Then I remember an e-mail by EC Paul (East Coast Paul... I have two friends name Paul, and it's convenient to lable them by the continent that divides them.) He had though my problem was with the tank of iron spitting out crud from previously used tap water. I actually don't have any reason to think that he is right/wrong, so I consider his hypothesis and possible solution, which involves running vinegar through the iron. Oh, what the hell. Let's try it.
Out of the steam holes came little brown squirties that looked like nothing so much as silk worm feces. Having raised silk worms several times, I may assure you that this is not merely artistic embellishment, although I am congratulating myself for working the phrase “silk worm feces” into a bit of writing.
Then I tried the other direction, that is squirting some water directly into the steam holes and then seeing what comes out. An iron douche, as it were. Wow, more silk-wormy pellets.
This leaves the residue from the other day. I asked Flyura what to do. She said to run the iron over a cloth that has salt on it. I mentioned it to language partner Alan, and he said, “Why didn’t you ask me?” “Because you are not a housewife,” quoth I. I mean what 20-year old kid is going to know about such things, right? He is not Will Truman. He said, “I am such a housewife. I have no job, and I stay at home all day. All the stores have this stuff that will clean the bottom of an iron.” Wow, I guess he is Will Truman after all. So we stop off at the market — not the store — and we get this thing called an “iron cleaning pencil.” It looks like half of a wickless white table candle, maybe half an inch thick, but made of urea and stearic acid. You heat the iron to cotton level; rub the pencil on it, which melts; and then wipe off the muck. Don’t let the word urea scare you; it smells nothing like urine.
So I tried that. Maybe it helped a bit. But it still didn’t work as good as the scrubbing, so I did one more round of scrubbing. Wow, now the iron looks beautiful. I try it on another piece of Chinese cotton. No reside.
I may finally have a clean iron.
My friend WC Paul (West Coast Paul) will doubtless mock for not simply going out and buying a new one. But where is the joy of problem solving if I simply buy a new one? Plus the idea offends me of buying something new if the only issue is cleaning it right. I mean, then it just goes into the landfill and speeds our current environmental degradation, right?
Don responds: Cleaning was successful. Iron is working great; I'm using it most ever day. I'm even ironing my t-shirts here, which I would never do at home.